If I lost you at ‘Braised’… hold on. For years, I equated the term ‘braise’ with ‘boring’. I assumed it was the official cooking technique for tough meats and items otherwise inedible by any other method. Items no one cared to eat in the first place. Skirt steak anyone?
Braising connotes a Fall-Winter tone. Yet, it is almost April and the mercury is still hovering in the 30s. So, while we are ready for asparagus and artichokes, there is still time to celebrate cabbage, especially for those of us stuck in the Polar Vortex.
Braising simply combines dry heat and moist heat. According to acclaimed food writer, Michael Ruhlman,
“Braising is what cooking is all about: transformation, turning raw, tough, inexpensive ingredients into hot, tender, delectable dishes. Braising is also one of the most generous techniques; it fills the kitchen.”
I generally steam cabbage, as it is the best method for preserving the nutrients and health benefits of cabbage. But, my grocer was sold out of all the young, tender cabbages (again!), and had but one left. It was a monster. I took home all 5 pounds of it, massively thick ribs and all, knowing it might be a WWE-tough head and resolved that this was ‘a braiser’. By the way, the word cabbage is derived from the Latin word caput, meaning “head”. 
Main course? Baked salmon in the toaster oven. It happens. It happens a lot -out of convenience and lack of planning or inspiration. But, it doesn’t need to be boring. I prepared the salmon with a drizzling of coconut oil, a few sprays of Braggs Amino Acids and seasoned it with cracked pepper then baked in the toaster over at 425°F for about 12 minutes. I figured my monster cabbage would be the perfect companion to make it shine.
Evidently Costco wild salmon and red cabbage make quite the power couple. This quick meal was not only nutritious and full of vibrant color, it was a delicious combination of textures, aromatics and accenting flavors; coconut, ginger and apple with just a hint of sweetness. I used 12 cups of sliced cabbage, but the recipe can be scaled down as needed. Yield: 8 cups
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil or butter)
- 1 medium or 1/2 large red cabbage, cored, quartered, then thinly sliced
- 1 red apple, cored and diced (Gala or Fuji work well)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 6 whole cloves (optional)
- 6 cardamon pods (optional)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons raw honey (or agave)
- 1/2 cup water
- Core, quarter and slice the cabbage. Let the cabbage rest while you chop the onion and apple. (See note on myrosinase)
- In a heavy pot, heat coconut oil over medium heat.
- Add onion and apple, stirring often, until onion softens, about 4-6 minutes.
- Add cabbage and ground ginger, cinnamon, clove and cardamon pods (if using). Stir to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper and stir to coat.
- Add vinegar, honey and water.
- Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cover mixture and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- Adjust salt, pepper and honey to taste.
In this photo, I topped the salmon with a little avocado cream left over from the day before. Simply combine garlic, lime juice, avocado and salt with a little olive or coconut oil and process.
Maximize the health benefits of cabbage by letting it rest for 5-10 minutes between chopping or slicing and actual cooking. Once the cells in cabbage have been broken apart through slicing, shredding, or chopping, the myrosinase enzymes in those cells can become active in converting the glucosinolates in cabbage into ITCs, compounds with chemo-protective properties.
 The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia – Rebecca Wood
 The Linus Pauling Institute